Get Your Face Out for The Lads

So Boris Johnson isn’t keen on the burqa. He isn’t alone. He has articulated sentiments that increasing numbers of white, anglo-saxon, non-Muslim men share.

For example, one was most amused to see a number of anti-burqa posts on the Facebook page of a rugby club. These paragons of radical feminism, as rugby clubs are wont to be, were greatly offended by the oppression of their sisters in struggle that the burqa, clearly, represented. I’m sure we can all take comfort, not least campaigners against the sexual harassment of women, that in between rousing beer-fuelled choruses of ‘get your tits out for the lads’ these stout fellows are doing their bit for female emancipation.

Similarly, the cream of British manhood I observed outside a hostelry in Kingston, recently, would surely have earned tears of gratitude from oppressed women everywhere – Muslim and non-Muslim alike – with their oh-so post-modern take on a traditional expression of female solidarity. Clutching pints and sporting red faces as a burqa-adorned woman hurried by, these delightful specimens chanted, ‘get your face out, get your face out, get your face out for the lads.’

Equally, those implacable opponents of Islam, and that faith’s suppression of its female adherents, in the English Defence League (or what’s left of it) see no contradiction in boasting a membership riddled rapists and child abusers. Indeed, no less a ferocious defender of women’s liberation than Tommy Robinson is alleged to have accrued one of his many criminal convictions while engaged in beating up his partner.

Britain First, also, while standing valiantly against the perceived misogyny and sexism of the Islamic faith would be offended if the anti-women antics of its leader were pointed out. After all, it would be churlish to mention that the most fundamental aspect of women’s freedom would be the freedom to control their own bodies, sexuality and fertility. So intimidating and harassing women outside abortion clinics is fine as long as it’s BF Fuhrer Paul Golding doing so and not those dodgy brown Muslim types.

Yes, even the most right-wing troglodyte seems compelled to channel their inner Julie Bindel when it comes to the burqa. It’s not Islamophobia, though, is it? No, perish the thought. Nor racism, either. Of course not; they’re not racist but…

Men are men all over the world, though. And one thing a religious lunatic, of whatever faith, has in common with his white, Western, secular counterpart is a desire to control women. The song remains the same; men telling women what they can and can’t wear. Men telling rape victims that they asked for it because of the length of their skirts and then telling Muslim women that their traditional garb is an offensive symbol of reactionary oppression. White Western men defending page 3 topless models because it’s ‘their choice, innit?’ but denying even the possibility that Muslim women can decide to make an entirely different choice. Patriarchal white men critiquing their daughters’ outfits for a night on the town, while railing against poor downtrodden Muslim women forced into covering up by controlling fundamentalist zealots.

The emancipation of women is not best achieved by states imposing bans on what women may or may not wear. To put it mildly. Still less will it be won by racist, sexist men covering their Islamophobia with a wafer-thin veneer of ‘feminism.’

And the idea that Boris Johnson parking his tank on the far-right’s lawn is in any way motivated by a commitment to the liberation of women is just too ridiculous to even contemplate.

Don’t you just love the smell of hypocrisy that floats in on the breeze whenever Islam becomes the topic of conversation?

Harry Paterson